12.14.2009

Welcome to Milwaukee

At the end of last season Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin told the media that he would be looking to add two starting pitchers in an effort to fix the team's awful, awful, starting rotation. The first signing has been made, and after a few days to let the addition of Randy Wolf sink in, it's time to weigh in.

So what will the Brewers be getting from Wolf, a 33 year old lefty coming off a career year. Last year with the Dodgers Wolf won 11 games and pitched 214 innings. He kept his ERA low (3.23) and struck out 160 against 58 walks. For his career he's really only had three bad years, his rookie season and 2006 and 2007 when he had Tommy John surgery and the subsequent recovery.

Is the risk too great? Giving a 33 year-old pitcher a three year deal has many screaming of "Jeff Suppan 2.0" but that's really not the case. First, Wolf's deal is only three years, one less than Suppan's and it's also over $12 million less.

More importantly, Wolf's ceiling as a pitcher is much higher. Suppan was a journeyman who had never had much success until a three year stretch with the Cardinals. For nearly five seasons Wolf was the best pitcher on the Phillies staff and after his elbow injury, he became a more than effective pitcher with the Dodgers, Astros and Padres. He's really more of a No. 3 pitcher but he'll be a No. 2 for the Brewers and upgrading over Suppan, Braden Looper and Manny Parra is not difficult.

What needs to be done to truly evaluate this move is to look at Wolf relative to the rest of the free agent market. If you don't like this move than find a better move to be made. Yes, Erik Bedard has a higher ceiling than Wolf, but he's also had a very difficult time staying on the field. Wolf has been a much more consistent pitcher than just about any starter available except John Lackey. Lackey will probably receive $16-18 million a year and Milwaukee wasn't going to offer that much. There wasn't a better move to be made than the one the Crew made for Wolf.

Adding a stable, veteran pitcher also gives the team a chance to pursue a player that might be more of a risk. Bedard is one player the team could be interested in, as well as former Brewer Ben Sheets and Justin Duchsherer. These are the types of risk-reward players that the team can pursue and not be as hurt by if they don't pan out because of the Wolf signing.

This offseason remains a work in progress, bringing Mark Mulder in is still too big of a question mark to expect much return. Doug Melvin has said he wants to bring in two starting pitchers, he's added one and he'll need to add another for the rotation to show any great improvement. Wolf is a good start, but he can't stop there.

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